Lady Rangers still seek elusive first win

Jordan P. Ingram

The Lady Rangers trailed by six points at the start of the fourth quarter and were in dogged pursuit of notching their first win of the season over visiting Dillon.

Park High took shots carefully, shooting a season-best of 50 percent from the field and had a season low in turnovers. 

But the top-ranked Beavers dug a little deeper to survive an upset, topping the Lady Rangers 37-27 in a Class A girls basketball game on Saturday night. 

Senior Claree Tecca led with 10 points after drilling two three-pointers to lead Park in a second-half scoring battle, exchanging baskets with Dillon (8-3, 3-1) until the final minutes of the game.

The Lady Rangers displayed a marked improvement over the weekend from their previous encounters with Townsend and Dillon, falling to both teams by greater than 30 points earlier this season.

“After a series of blowout losses through the first half of the year, it is a genuine testament to the grit, effort and commitment that this group has never given up,” Park coach Scott Coleman said. “They are open to every coaching effort, they feed off of each other’s effort, and I honestly believe their trajectory of improvement is second to none.” 

Kendyl Pierson had six points, and Katherine Kant and Lauren Emter each scored four points for the Lady Rangers, who stymied the Beavers’ offense for most of the game with heads-up defense, rebounds and maintaining constant pressure on the perimeter, forcing the Beavers to make tough shots inside against Emter, a 6-foot senior, and 6’4” sophomore Danielle Babcox. 

Coleman said he was impressed with Pierson’s ability to master Dillon’s triangle offense and effectively limit the Beavers’ top scoring threat, Brynley Fitzgerald, to just nine points, well below her season average of 15 points per game.  

“Kaylie Palmer also played very well in shutting down the three-point range,” Coleman said.

But Fitzgerald and Kyndall Petersen eventually got their numbers when it mattered the most, combining for 10 points to help Dillon outscore Park in the final period, 14-10. 

Petersen finshed with 11 points and Fitzgerald had nine points for the Beavers. 

“These girls have found a way to use what they do have and held this excellent Dillon team to a measly 37 points by a mere 10-point margin,” Coleman said. “As long as they don’t shy away from hard work, we will surprise this year yet.”

On Friday, visiting Townsend jumped out to an early 18-12 lead and went on to defeat the Lady Rangers, 57-40.

Tecca led with 10 points, Larissa Saarel and Abby Kokot scored six points apiece, Babcox had four points, and Kant and Shania Johnson each added three points for Park.

Tavia Rooney scored a game-high 19 points and Abby Leachman had 18 points to lead the Bulldogs.



The Lady Rangers (0-13, 0-5) play at Belgrade (7-6, 5-2) at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 3 and host Butte Central (10-3, 5-1) at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 4.